Over the last five seasons, the Philadelphia Flyers core players have mostly remained untouched. Players such as Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier make up that core on the Flyers. Some other forwards in that core are Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl. The 2019-2020 season was on track to be a rebound season in Raffl’s career. We caught up briefly with Raffl on a conference call to discuss the current state of hockey and his current campaign in Philadelphia.
Hockey In 2020
When speaking with James van Riemsdyk, an NHLPA representative, he explained the context of the NHL negotiations for the return-to-play format. He provided some confirmation that the negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA made sense in how it was structured. Players felt more comfortable about returning to play hockey during the pandemic after learning about the testing protocol. That’s not just a failsafe response from van Riemsdyk. Michael Raffl agrees:
“I think it was a fair deal for both sides. You saw how many players voted for it. It was almost 80 percent, so I think it was a good deal for us.”Michael Raffl; 7/15/20
Most of the players are motivated to return to hockey. Sure, the worry about safety will never be completely removed, but this brings a bit of normalcy back to the players. In the spirit of competition, the motivation to return has to do with an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup. The lack of fans at the arena will be strange, but to Michael Raffl, it’s not required to get the blood pumping.
“I don’t think there should be any motivational problem. You’re playing for the Stanley Cup and it’s the playoffs.”Michael Raffl; 7/15/20
Every player that decided to return had the opportunity to opt-out without any repercussions. Concerns about the pandemic aside, every player who returned for the Stanley Cup playoffs doesn’t need a motivational boost. As an NHL player, this is what you play for.
“The core of the group has been pretty much the same here. We’ve all been really close friends over the course of the last few seasons. We had some really good hockey players coming in last year and helping us out.”Michael Raffl; 7/15/20
Michael Raffl calls the team “close friends.” That’s another synonym to describe the Philadelphia Flyers as a tight-knit locker room. A lot of the Flyers agree that this is one of the tightest teams over the past few seasons. There is something very special about Philadelphia’s chemistry.
“To be honest with you, I think this is the strongest team I’ve been on since I got over here.”Michael Raffl; 7/15/20
It has been seven years since Michael Raffl first dressed in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform. To him, he believes that this is the strongest Flyers team since the 2013-2014 season. That’s par for the course when the coach of the team is a Jack Adams Award finalist. Alain Vigneault is a great source as to why the players believe this particular team is so potent.
“He wanted us to be winners. I think over the course of the last season, you can tell a lot of players have improved under his coaching, especially the team was way better.”Michael Raffl; 7/15/20
Check out some more Flyers Check-In’s with other players below:
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Eric is a University of Delaware graduate with a degree in English. While in school, he began writing for different publications such as The Highlight Network, Amps and Greenscreens, and he did color commentary for the University of Delaware Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams throughout the 2013 season as an alumni. Prior to being featured with Philly Sports Network, he began a pro-wrestling podcast with a childhood friend called the Totally Over Podcast. As an avid sports die-hard for all things Philadelphia, Eric is also a proud supporter of West Virginia University.